My youngest son has a Winter Birthday, and we had his first at-home party for friends a few weeks back. I’ve thrown his older brother some rockin’ backyard parties, if I do say so myself. But those celebrations have been in the late Spring, when it’s a no-brainer to be outdoors. Still, I was determined to do the same for my February Baby.
Why outdoors in winter? We have a fun backyard and modestly-sized house, so the best way to party here is outdoors, even in winter. In my experience, kids love being in a new outdoor space, it’s like a great big never-seen-before toy. Plus, I figured they are outside so much less in winter that even without snow they would be happy.
I was right! The kids had a blast. Here’s how we did it.
The Weather: We hoped for snow but were prepared for anything. We called it a Winter Games party and I made sure all the parents knew we would be outside and to please dress their kiddos appropriately. We did have snow, but used tissue paper snow balls anyway (see below).
|Sledding is a great way to celebrate!|
The Logistics: Because of the cold and the young ages (5 and 6 years old) of most of the guests, we couldn’t keep them outside for too long. Thinking again of my small house, we set the guest list at a manageable size and scheduled the party for about two hours. The agenda: Lunch, outside for games, and back in for cake.
What I hadn’t accounted for was the chaos and time involved in getting a dozen kids dressed in winter clothes, and then later getting them out of their wet layers, all at the same time. The other parents helped and we worked in shifts.
The Games: The Birthday Boy and his brother helped me come up with several fun games that kept everyone active and moving, which helped keep everyone warm.
1. Colored Ice Cube Scavenger Hunt. What you need: Ice cube tray, food dye, water. Fill ice cube trays with colored water, enough for each child to find six ice cubes. Freeze for 48 hours. Hide ice cubes around the yard. Send the kids out searching!
2. Snow Ball Relay Race. What you need: Snow balls (real or made with crinkled up white tissue paper), at least one per child. Snow sleds with a rope attached for pulling, one for each team.
Separate the children into two or more teams, have them line up at a starting line and give each team a sled. Put the snowballs into a pile some distance from the start line. On their turn, each child pulls a sled to the pile, places a snow ball into the sled, brings the sled back to her team, dumps the snow ball and gives the sled to the next player.
3. Winter Obstacle Course. What you need: Orange plastic cones to mark each obstacle station, and a variety of outdoor toys, like balls, hockey sticks, snow scoopers, sleds, hulla hoops, etc. Set up 5 or 6 obstacle stations. We had our guests sled down a hill, crawl through a tunnel, hit a hockey puck into a goal, scoop up snow into a bucket and throw a Frisbee. If you have enough snow, build a snow wall to climb over or a snow pile to jump into. Have each child take a turn trying out the course.
4. Snow Ball Fight. Using the tissue paper snowballs from the relay race, we let the kids go at it for a few minutes.
5. Free Play. Any good party lets the kids just do their own thing for a while, without adult direction. As some got cold or tired, they headed inside to play Legos or to make letter necklaces, which I had set up at a table.
The Finishing Touches: We wrapped up the day with Icecream Cake and sent everyone home with a Lego goody bag. An Outdoor Winter Birthday party lends itself to all kinds of clever themed snacks, decorations and favors, if you are that kind of party planner. I am not. Our “theme” was a combination of Lego Ninjago meets wooden necklaces and hotdogs. But we got outside!